The Real Reason Costco Stopped Selling Half Sheet Cakes

Costco's half sheet cakes are a sweet treat of mythical proportions. This celebratory dessert staple is beloved by children and office workers alike and can feed almost 50 individuals for just less than a Jackson (a 20-dollar bill).

To say that Costco's half sheet cakes were popular is a bit of an understatement, and happiness seemed to be the metaphorical icing on the cake (for both members and executives). But all that serendipity halted in March 2020 when Costco suddenly removed all signs that the half sheet cake had ever actually been in existence. This dessert, which had the ability to turn frowns upside down — even if you were part of Team Pie — had suddenly just disappeared into thin air, and left customers wondering, "what just happened?"

In a time when the world was pretty much imploding and turning upside down, Costco's half sheet cake was nowhere to be found. And panic most definitely ensued, with consumers pushing back against the big box merchant by using their 26th amendment rights (via Congress). With the abrupt removal of the half sheet cake, Costco ultimately instigated a cake war. But what's the real reason behind Costco's half sheet cake eradication? Will they ever offer their delectable half sheet cakes again? Keep reading for the real reason why Costco stopped selling their half sheet cakes.

Costco's half-sheet cake is kind of a big deal

As previously mentioned, Costco's half sheet cake was a delicious monstrosity of celebratory sugar and coma-inducing happiness. This fully customizable, two-layer cake came with two flavor options: chocolate or vanilla (via Dessert Menus). Cake is always a big deal at parties, but the Costco half sheet ... well, this huge, decadent behemoth baked good always made a favorable (flavorable?) impact on mind, belly, and wallet.

You might be wondering how big a half sheet cake really is, and the answer is big. The Costco half sheet bakes in at 12 inches by 16 inches by 3 inches, as noted on the unaffiliated menu blog Costco Prices. Webstaurant breaks it down per serving size, explaining that serving 2-inch by 2-inch squares will basically produce 48 happy tummies. If you don't joke around with cake sizes and like the bigger, better, perfect option, 2-inch by 3-inch rectangles will make 32 servings. The best part is that it costs less than $20.

No matter how you cut it, that's a lot of sweet satisfaction (for just a little bit of dough). But with the sweet comes the sour. Unfortunately, when you go on your next routine Costco trip, you'll notice that there are no longer half sheet cakes available on the bakery racks. That's because Costco has replaced the half sheet cake with 10-inch round ones, which make 12 servings and start at $12.

There was even a petition to bring back half sheet cakes

It might seem somewhat silly to know that there are people out there who are that passionate about something as simple as cake. But if you've ever watched any sports, entertainment, or political event, then it goes without saying that pretty much anything or anyone can have a hardcore fan base.

There are some individuals out there who love this specific cake so dearly that they started a petition in an attempt to persuade Costco to bring it back (via Yahoo!). This ginormous half sheet cake has a legit cult following. It does seem rather extreme (especially for cake) to know that in a show of bakery solidarity, at least 1,520 people have signed this particular petition on This online appeal states that the Costco half sheet should be brought back because "Birthdays and special occasions will never be the same," and claims them to be nothing short of perfection. (But you know, there really is no such thing as perfect.)

COVID was the uninvited party guest that ruined the half sheet cake

Costco's half sheet cake was not immune to the coronavirus, and as you probably assumed, was hastily removed from the shelves as a result of the pandemic (via CNN Business). The half sheet cake, unfortunately, became another casualty of the pandemic.

The main thought process behind Costco's methodical half cake removal was an attempt to curb large social gatherings, which probably would have turned into super-spreader events (via KRON4). (Because when you purchase a cake that large, it's safe to say that it's not just for a few sugar-happy people.) In addition to eliminating any large-scale events, on the financial side, the demand for half sheet cakes wasn't exactly skyrocketing. People were rightly afraid to congregate in even smaller-ish groupings, let alone go outside to get some fresh air.

The diminished interest in the half sheet cake (for the above reasons) meant that people were spending less money on items commonly purchased for social events and parties. (Not to mention, people were also dealing with financial stressors like unemployment, which meant less money to spend ... even if they wanted to throw a shindig during the pandemic.) 

Costco was relatively quiet about the whole thing in the beginning

Not surprisingly, the elimination of the half sheet cake wasn't something that Costco wanted to publicize. Like any major company that stops selling a popular item — we're looking at you, Trader Joe's — Costco tried to keep this cake debacle under wraps and instead aggressively marketed their new 12-inch round cakes. To add insult to injury, this PR statement was only released on their Facebook page (in an attempt to pique customers' curiosity). This limited informational release did not go over well with their members, as noted on Business Insider.

Like trying to bake a cake with improper ingredient ratios, the sneaky, systematic switcheroo from half sheet to round cake caused Costco to fall flat, unable to rise to the occasion. To try and make up for their marketing mishap, Costco representatives did eventually release a press statement to the public, stating that they were indefinitely suspending the sales of half sheet cakes at their warehouses. (Which is exactly what the membership club's customers did not want to hear.) 

Supply chain issues and rising costs aren't helping

It wasn't enough to have COVID barge in like the Kool-Aid man and ruin all sense of normalcy. Oh, no. While the world tried — and is still trying — to recover from this devastating virus, the current world state of affairs isn't helping. Thanks to major delays in the worldwide supply chain, as well as inflated prices for pretty much every consumer good on the planet, half sheet cakes are probably the last thing Costco is thinking about tackling.

In an effort to try and stymie the rapidly escalating issues surrounding keeping items in stock, Costco began putting a cap on the number of multiples for products that were considered to be "panic buy" items — you know, pasta, bottled water, loungewear, and the most obvious, toilet paper (via Forbes). On top of that, the big box merchant also started charting their own cargo ships to help get products made overseas delivered to their warehouses as quickly and efficiently as possible. (So you can sort of see how monstrous cakes aren't really high on their financial priorities list.)

No cake? No worries — home baking surged during the pandemic

Although this pandemic was (and continues to be) of serious concern, and has severely impacted the lives of millions of people, it's important to also take stock of the positives. You know, find the light in a time of darkness — it's the key to preventing yourself from falling into a fog of depression (via Psychology Today). We've all spent perhaps a little too much time at home. Time both sped up and slowed down, though there was still plenty of it to spare. In the midst of the pandemic, people were almost forced to try out new hobbies, and as a result, home baking was one niche that saw a substantial increase in interest, as noted by The Economist.

The combination of pandemic restrictions (mandatory quarantine and limits on social gatherings), and also a general fear of going outside, meant that fewer people were focused on getting out to Costco to purchase a cake. Instead, people were at home honing their baking skills and learning how to make their own Costco copycat cake for a fraction of the Costco cost. As the old adage goes, give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

Never fear, the half sheet cake is still here

Okay, let's face it. This is a lot of huff and puff about a half sheet cake. But do you really think that Costco would eliminate something that has brought so much happiness to customers around the world? (They may be a giant corporation, but it is still run by humans.) Keep in mind that customer satisfaction is what makes or breaks a business (via Indeed), which is one of the reasons why Costco is so successful. They'd pretty much do anything for their customers. Do you remember back in 2018 when a woman returned her Christmas tree because it was dead? They honored her request with a full refund (via New York Post).

While it's not blatantly advertised, you can still get your half sheet cake (and eat it, too). But you can't order by phone or over the web (via Costco Customer Service). You have to physically go to your local Costco and fill out an order form — conveniently tucked away in the bakery section. The flavors are still the same, are still 100% customizable, and only take a few days to create.

So, if you're looking to celebrate this newfound discovery, why not head over to your local Costco and order a half sheet cake? It's been a rough past few years. Indulge yourself. You've earned it.